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MU and The Ivors Academy Respond to Record Label Heads Contributions to Government Streaming Inquiry

The MU and The Ivors Academy have today responded with incredulity to the testimonies of the UK heads of the three major labels during questioning by the Select Committee inquiry into the Economics of Streaming.

Published: 19 January 2021 | 4:39 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
A young musician singing into a microphone behind a protective screen.
We can't have labels announcing record profits while our members are quite literally unable to put food on the table. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The witnesses to the third panel in the inquiry into the Economics of Streaming, Tony Harlow, Chief Executive of Warner Music UK; Jason Iley, Chairman and Chief Executive of Sony Music UK & Ireland; and David Joseph, Chairman and Chief Executive, of Universal Music UK & Ireland, faced a series of searching examinations from the Committee, who regularly referred to the damning statements given by artists at the earlier hearings.

Recorded music must play its part in sustaining the livelihoods of musicians

Naomi Pohl​, MU Deputy General Secretary, said:

“The UK major label heads have claimed in these oral evidence sessions that artists are happy with the way streaming revenue is divided up.

“Given we have had 17,000 petition signatures and the #BrokenRecord campaign has had very wide engagement from artists on Twitter, this seems out of touch at best. When asked for their reactions to artists falling into hardship as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, they blamed this on the closure of the live music sector and also stated that they donate to charities and hardship funds for musicians.

“Of course, if recorded music revenues were paid out fairly to artists then we might not have seen over 20,000 applications to hardship funds in the first few months of the crisis.

“Recorded music must play its part in sustaining the livelihoods of the musicians and songwriters. We can't have labels announcing record profits while our members are quite literally unable to put food on the table. The system is broken and it needs to be fixed.”

There’s enough money to go around, but too much is going to the labels

Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, said:

"The Select Committee is doing a great job getting to the heart of the issues with streaming. Labels and their biggest artists will be content with the current system because it pays them so much.

“The major labels are resisting change, but change is needed. It is unfair that streaming leaves the majority of creators to have to perform live, sell merchandise or seek donations to make ends meet.

“The Select Committee heard that labels pay 20% to artists having bought the recording copyright outright. This contrasts enormously with publishing where deals are shorter and the publisher pays 80%. There is enough money in streaming to go around, the problem is too much is going to the labels. Paying more of streaming royalties to publishing will pay more to creators. This is the change we need.”

The inquiry is looking at the impact of streaming on the music industries sustainability

MPs are examining what economic impact music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the sustainability of the wider music industry. With streaming currently accounting for more than half of the global music industry’s revenue, this inquiry is looking at the business models operated by platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play.

Music streaming in the UK brings in more than £1 billion in revenue with 114 billion music streams in the last year, however artists can be paid as little as 13% of the income generated and songwriters even less.

The Committee will also be considering whether the government should be taking action to protect the industry from piracy in the wake of steps taken by the EU on copyright. The inquiry is seeking the perspectives of industry experts, artists and record labels as well as streaming platforms themselves.

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